In between playing his Braincell set at Free Earth, Indian Spirit and Space Safari festivals, we invited Ralph K. Freund aka Braincell to share with you his music inspirations, life[style], and more in this exclusive interview:
1. As a DJ, you can create unforgettable moments on the dance floor. Can you describe one of your most memorable experiences where you felt a deep connection with the crowd and how you achieved that?
My most memorable experience is those moments when you feel the crowd moving with you and you can feel the audience celebrating the music together. While this happens a lot, one of my favourite such moments was at Ozora 2016, when I closed the Main floor. I could feel the reaction from the crowd when I played with the sound live, tried putting stuff on top of the songs, and saw people’s reactions to what I was playing - truly unforgettable!
2. Mixing and blending tracks seamlessly is a skill that distinguishes great DJs. How do you approach creating smooth transitions between different songs, and do you have any tips or tricks you could share?
The best tip I can share is to try preparing loops and sounds (with soft or hardware) and play them when you make the transition from one song to another, leaving space for spontaneous creativity. So you can smoothly transition to another track. Takes a bit of practice to not overdo it, but if you get the feeling it's fun and makes tracks glue together more smoothly.
3. The role of a DJ extends beyond just playing music. How do you gauge the energy and vibe of the crowd, and what techniques do you use to adapt your set accordingly to keep the dance floor alive and connected?
Often, I try to read the audience - what they react most to, and what are their favourite sounds. Then, I adapt and tell the musical story accordingly. Which is not always easy, but when it works out it is amazing to see how people dive deeper and deeper into the music.
4. Musical trends come and go. How do you balance staying true to your unique sound while also staying relevant to the evolving tastes and preferences of the audience?
Honestly? Sure, I get inspired by others, but I don't try to copy any sound from others, never imitate anything, and I care less about what's “in” in the moment. Guess I found my style over the years, so it feels natural to stay on my path and be true to myself. I always continue working towards improving my sound. In this way, it is ever-evolving. Till now, I mostly got good feedback and people are happy - so my goal is achieved ;)
5. How do you approach fashion choices as a DJ in the psytrance scene? Do you prioritise sustainable and ethical fashion brands or have a particular stance on conscious fashion?
Generally, I wear clothing I like and that suits me well. Usually, you will find me caring less about how the clothes look, and more about how comfortable they are to wear. Comfort is one of the reasons why I love wearing breathable fabrics, like organic cotton. I always prefer clothing which is ethically made from sustainable sources. That’s why I like wearing brands like Psylo, which have sustainability at the heart of everything they do.
6. What’s your experience of Psylo’s clothing & style?
Everything I bought since I first discovered Psylo clothing lasts for a long time and they are so comfortable to wear, and have a nice look and design, which I hardly can get enough of. The materials for the clothing are always on the top-notch level. I never had clothes which lasted so long and were of such good quality like Psylo stuff… From my experience - awesome brand. Highly recommend!
7. In the context of the psytrance genre, how do you personally view the role of sustainability? Do you believe it's important for artists in this genre to consider environmental impact and are there any initiatives you take to minimise your ecological footprint during performances or events?
I believe that we always need to look at ways to keep a Balance. It is important that we keep nature intact as much as possible, as well as improve how we use the environment. For example, as a DJ, I travel a lot and to do it more sustainably there are simple tips to follow. If there is a chance to go by train instead of flying around like mad, I would choose the train. But it's also hard to keep track of that, cause it's not always possible. I care about these issues, so I do what I can.
8. How do you successfully integrate the values of freedom, spirituality, and conscious consumption into both your role as a DJ and your personal life? Additionally, what are your thoughts on how Psylo, as a sustainable alt-fashion brand, aligns with and supports these values?
Well, from the start, my drive for doing what I do was to be free. To be uncontrolled by anyone. My standpoint is that everybody should be creating their own stories and gaining the best out of their lives by being free and believing what you need to be happy, instead of somebody telling us what to do or believe in. This freedom of thought has always been my passion, and I feel very happy with the life I chose to be my own boss and create my own path. And for me, Psylo are doing the same: not following specific rules and designing like nobody does, free and open. As it should be, in my opinion. That's why I'm always attracted to the Psylo style and designs. You guys rock!
9. What aspirations or goals do you have for your DJing career in the future? How do you envision pushing boundaries and further developing your craft?
As a musician, I always look for new ways of making music. For example, I’m currently using hardware more than ever. Mainly ‘cause I got bored of doing everything on the computer and this keeps me motivated to create new sounds. Also having not too many tools as you have in a computer keeps me in a zone of being creative with what I have, instead of being overloaded with options… So I’m looking forward to exploring this avenue further. Although I don't have a specific target for what’s next, my goal is to continue creating as much music as possible to serve our community with new sounds. I’m going to just go with the flow and see what happens next.
About Ralph K. Freund aka Braincell
Growing up in Germany, Ralph K. Freund played various Instruments like the trumpet, guitar and percussion, exploring performing in classical orchestras. In 1994, he discovered the world of synthesizers and the electronic music scene, becoming a DJ and producer. Together with his friend Jay, he founded the project Rastaliens and released three albums, as well as countless single releases and compilations on major labels around the world. In 2003, Ralph started his first personal project known as Braincell, which till today released six albums and about 50 releases on compilations. Along these, Ralph started several other alter-egos and musical collaboration projects; Solar Spectrum, Unknown Reality, Melting Point, and Undercover Babas. In 2011, he also founded NoizeBusters to give lessons and support to other artists. To date, he has been playing on every major continent; in countries like the USA, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, UK, Greece, South Africa, India, Thailand and more, receiving much praise for energetic and emotional live shows, DJ sets and production skills. Today, he’s one of the best known on the Psytrance scene all over the world.